Greatest feats: Jill McKinney

February 4, 2019

Jill McKinney, head of skills and training at Sunderland Software City, shares the acts she’s been most inspired by

What do you consider to be the greatest feat in business and why?

Choosing to collaborate, rather than compete. Being lucky enough to work in one of the country’s strongest tech sectors, I see this every day: businesses that could otherwise see each other as a threat working together to achieve bigger and better things. The openness and willingness to make a real difference has created a fantastic community and led to some amazing joint ventures.

What is the greatest physical feat you’ve witnessed by an individual and why?

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Claire Lomas while she was in her final leg of the Great North Run in 2016 using a robotic suit. Claire is a former event rider who, after a riding accident in 2007, is paraplegic. Her pure grit and determination are phenomenal. I have so much respect for her; she taught me there is no such thing as ‘can’t’.

What about by a group or team?

As part of our introduction to tech programme Go-Reboot, we often work with groups of young people with autism. It’s a huge achievement for some of them to even come along to our offices on the first day. However, we’ve seen that with a bit of support and by working on their areas of interest, they’re willing to step out of their comfort zones. They’ve even ended the week presenting their ideas in front of businesses and taking the next steps to pursue a career in tech.

Which demonstration of intelligence/mental strength has most impressed you?

This is a difficult question to answer. Working in this sector, I get to witness the most incredible solutions to real life problems every day. I also
see people giving up their careers to pursue their dreams of becoming self-employed, which anyone that has been or is self-employed will know is a real test of mental strength. The North East is the vanguard in many respects – people leading the way with good old northern grit.

Which act of generosity has inspired you the most and why?

A café owner in my home town opens her doors on Christmas Day to serve lunch to people who would ordinarily spend the day on their own. She doesn’t charge for this and all her staff are volunteers. Having a family of her own, she understands the importance of having people around you on days like this. Acts of generosity and kindness like this make me feel so humble and inspire me to do things that help to make a real difference to people’s lives.

Sunderland Software City

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